Joy Through Suffering
Life is unpredictable. When I was l3 years old, my life changed in a split second when I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, a chronic illness that has no cure. My life became a series of insulin shots, blood sugar checks, and doctor’s appointments. I felt that I had been given a death sentence. Five months later my parents forced me to go to diabetes camp. It was the first place that I felt normal since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was surrounded by kids who were all going through the same struggles I was. Here were teenagers who had accepted their diagnosis and were refusing to let it rule or ruin their lives. For the first time I realized that although I didn’t have a choice of whether or not to have the disease, I did have a choice on how I would live my life. And I chose to live it as a victor rather than a victim.
From that moment on, I dedicated my life to doing everything I could to find a cure for diabetes. I knew that I was not going to be the scientist in the laboratory, but there were other ways to help find a cure. I was 14 years old and didn’t know enough to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the cause.
In the past eight years, my journey has brought me to Capitol Hill, national meetings of the American Diabetes Association, countless fundraisers and even to the White House to see President George Bush. I’ve talked to anyone who would listen about the devastating affects of diabetes on the 21 million Americans who suffer with it.
Of the thousands of people I’ve talked to, the most important to me are personal conversations I’ve had with children living with diabetes. That’s where I think I’ve had the biggest impact. I tell these kids that diabetes can’t destroy their dreams unless they allow it to. They have to learn to manage their illness and it’s a challenge but it can be done. Their parents, teachers or friends can’t decide for them. Only they can make the decision to live life fully despite having a chronic illness. I tell them that diabetes may shorten my life but it does not have the power to diminish it. God has given me so many gifts and I want to use every one of them for His glory.
My younger brother, Will, also has type-1 diabetes. Every single night he prays, “Dear God, please find a cure for diabetes.” He’s had diabetes since he was five years old and has said that prayer 4,411 times. “Dear God, please find a cure for diabetes.” I believe that God will answer that prayer but until He does, I am not going to stop fighting to find a cure.
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